Consumer Testing Alcoholic Beverages: Rules of the Road

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The market for alcoholic beverages is dynamic, with new products being introduced – and dismissed – rapidly. Take, for example, the hard seltzer market. In 2020, the market was growing like crazy (US hard seltzer sales to jump by 270% in 2020), and now – in 2021 –  experts are projecting that the hard seltzer boom is over (Hard seltzer boom goes flat), due to too many brands chasing too few customers.

It is no wonder that alcoholic beverage manufacturers cover their new product bets with significant amounts of consumer testing. However, testing alcoholic beverages with consumers has some unique requirements not found in testing other products or services. For example, each state has regulations governing the testing of alcoholic beverages. New York, for example, requires a permit for each sample you are going to test for each day you are running the test. To evaluate two samples of beer over four days would mean you would need to get eight permits. And those eight permit applications need to be submitted at least 30 days before the test occurs. Bottom line: no way you can test your alcoholic beverage in New York in a week!

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CLT, HUT, iHUT, etc. : What Are These and What’s Right For You?

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The world of product testing has generated many acronyms. A simple Google search reveals the following:

  • CLT – central location test
  • HUT – home use test
  • iHUT – in-home use test

And then, to further complicate the matter, some sources say that the “U” in these acronyms stands for use, some say usage, and still, others say user. So, what is it?

The difference is minimal. Product testing happens in the consumer’s home or at a specially-designed testing location call a CLT facility (central location test facility).

Which is the best choice for your project? It depends, of course! Here are factors you should consider in choosing between CLTs and iHUTs:

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What to Look For in a CLT/iHUT Data Collection Partner

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All marketing research data collection partners are not equal, especially when you are conducting CLTs (central location tests) and iHUTs (in-home use tests).

CLTs and iHUTS often require a larger sample for quantitative results. They also tend to be very complex – fielding with a large number of people in one or more settings locally or nationally. While most data collection partners will say they can do these types of projects, it makes sense to delve deeper and ensure that you are choosing the right partner for your project.

We’ve developed a resource to help you navigate choosing the right CLT/iHUT partner and 10 red flags to look out for.

Click Here, to download our free Tip Sheet.

Sweating the Details for iHUT Success!

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Whether you call them iHUTs, HUTs, In-Home Usage tests, Home Use Tests, or even In-Home User tests, this methodology is very popular with the marketing research community. And for a good reason. Understanding and testing how consumers use a product in their home (or, in some cases, a home-like setting) can help manufacturers make final changes to the product, the packaging, and even the instructions, before launching the product to the market. However, iHUTs are challenging to execute correctly with many moving pieces. Your data collection partner must have an intense commitment to overseeing and managing every detail of the process.

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